Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: What’s the difference?

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: August 26, 2022
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Hamsters are small rodents of the subfamily Cricetinae, which contains about 19 species. The golden or Syrian hamster is one of the best-known species of hamster. The Syrian hamsters have prominent barrel-shaped bodies and stubby tails. The standard-sized Syrian hamster is available in three main varieties; the short-haired fancy bear hamster, the long-haired teddy bear hamster, and the classic golden hamster.

Fancy bear hamsters and Syrian hamsters share so much in common, making it difficult to discern between them. But as the name suggests, fancy bear hamsters are a little prettier and have short hair requiring less maintenance. 

This article will compare the fancy bear hamster and Syrian hamster in almost every way, including preferred habitats, diets, appearance, and many more. Read on for more information about these rodents.

Comparing Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster

Fancy bear hamsters and Syrian hamsters share so much in common, making it difficult to discern between them.
Key DifferencesFancy Bear HamsterSyrian Hamster
ColorOriginally, only the golden color was available, but selective breeding has produced several fancy colors, including cinnamon, gray, cream, black, and moreCome in a wide range of colors, typically golden-brown with banded color patterns
Physical appearanceShort-hairedEither long-haired, short-haired, rex, or satin
HabitatThrive in any habitat where they can burrowPlateau, steppes, edges of deserts, dunes
DietConsumes plants, grains, vegetables, and fruitsConsumes a wide variety of food, including cockroaches, wasps, ants, flies, seeds, nuts, and insects
Habits and personalityQuite docile and friendlyPersonality depends on species. While others have sweet personalities, a few Syrian hamsters are very territorial and intolerant of each other
OriginBred from the Syrian hamsterOriginated in Syria

The Key Differences Between the Fancy Bear Hamster and the Syrian Hamster

The fancy bear hamster and the Syrian hamster have quite a lot in common. Although they are often misidentified, there are many differences that will help you tell the two apart. The key differences between the fancy bear hamster and the Syrian hamster are their physical appearance, personality, and habitat.

Let’s examine all these differences in more detail to help you understand them better.

Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: Color

Syrian Hamster in a flower garden
Some species of Syrian hamsters come in a few different shades.

©stock_shot/Shutterstock.com

Initially, only the golden color pattern was available across most Syrian hamster species. Still, selective breeding has produced several fancy bear hamsters with unique colors, including cinnamon, grey, cream, and black. Some fancy bear hamsters are named for their color variations, such as the tan honey bear hamster, the white polar bear hamster, the black-and-white panda bear hamster, the black spotted Dalmatian hamster, and more.

Although they are now bred in solid colors, some species of Syrian hamsters come in a few different shades. For example, the Siberian hamster, also known as the winter white Russian dwarf, is available in purplish grey with an ivory belly and a grey stripe on the back or may have white hairs sprinkled throughout the coat. 

Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: Physical Appearance

Unlike fancy bear hamsters, Syrian hamsters come in several different coat types. Some common coat types include short-haired, long-haired, rex, and satin. Fancy bear hamsters fall under the category of short-haired hamsters. The long-haired Syrians are also called teddy bear hamsters. The two fur types are satin, glossy, and rex, which have wave or curly textures. Both short-haired and long-haired hamsters may either have satin or rex coat types.

Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: Habitat

Syrian Hamster eating a carrot on building blocks..
The wild population of Syrian hamsters is found in fertile, agricultural, and densely populated areas.

©stock_shot/Shutterstock.com

Fancy bear hamsters prefer a habitat where they can burrow and which allows separate spaces for sleeping, feeding, and playing. They thrive in an arid climate with temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. They will exhibit decreased activity and may start hibernating when temperatures fall below 60 degrees. Fancy bear hamsters kept as pets can live in a wire cage as long as there is a layer of aspen shavings or shredded paper to serve as bedding. They are comfortable in a warm room in an area free of cold drafts.

On the contrary, the wild population of Syrian hamsters is found in fertile, agricultural, and densely populated areas in various Middle Eastern parts, including northern Syria and southern Turkey. Their habitats include the edges of deserts, dunes, plateaus, steppes, and more.

Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: Diet

All Syrian hamsters are omnivorous. Wild Syrian hamsters feed on a wide variety of food, including nuts, seeds, flies, cockroaches, wasps, ants, and many other insects. 

Domesticated fancy bear hamsters eat various fresh fruits, vegetables, treats, and pellet seed base diets given to them by their owners.

Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: Habits and Personality

Fancy Bear Hamster
Fancy bear hamsters are quite docile and friendly.

©Shadow526/Shutterstock.com

Fancy bear hamsters are quite docile and friendly. They are also very curious and adventurous. So, these creatures love wandering around to explore their surroundings. However, they may react by biting if they become scared or startled. Although fancy bear hamsters are small, their bites can hurt.

As opposed to domesticated fancy bear hamsters, wild Syrian hamsters are territorial and intolerant of each other. They usually attack each other, except when a male meets a female in heat. Even siblings may start attacking each other once they mature, sometimes to death. Some Syrian hamster species in captivity treat any foreign scent as a threat. Therefore, they may kill and eat healthy young hamsters who interact with humans.

Fancy Bear Hamster vs Syrian Hamster: Origin

Syrian hamsters originated from Syria and were first described in 1797 by science in The Natural History of Aleppo edition. They were later bred in Jerusalem as laboratory animals in 1930 and shipped to Britain in 1931. The descendants were passed on to private breeders in 1937. 

Over time, selective breeding has produced several hamster species, including the fancy bear hamster. In 1971, a separate stock of hamsters was exported from Syria to the United States. However, it’s thought that the current domestic golden hamster may have descended from the ones captured in Syria in 1930.


The Featured Image

Syrian Hamster eating a carrot on building blocks..
Syrian Hamster eating a carrot on building blocks.
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I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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